Because airlines have had a phenomenal 2017, what with all the assaults on passengers and dead animals, here’s what Twitter user Tony Posnanski called “the perfect ending to 2017.” A glitch in the computer system allowed all American Airlines pilots to take Christmas vacation all at the same time. Holiday travel is on a whole ‘nother level now.
This does seem like the perfect ending to 2017...— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) November 29, 2017
MERRY CHRISTMAS https://t.co/cJsAiDyg8D
The Allied Pilots Association, a union that represents commercial pilots, said a glitch in the system American Airlines uses to schedule time off for pilots approved all the PTO requests, which means more than 15,000 flights between Dec. 17-31 that are short some crew, Gizmodo reported.
According to a statement from the union on Tuesday: “On Friday, management disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system. As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period.
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“Today, management issued an update detailing the ‘significant holes’ in the operation and unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affected flights.”
The union, speaking to its pilot members, added, “management’s actions are in direct violation of your contract.”
The union is working with American Airlines as the airline is offering pilots beaucoup bucks to cancel their holiday and come into work, but that could violate union overtime regulations.
In a statement, American Airlines said: "We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season.
“We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain open trips 150 percent of their hourly rate."
“I‘m watching a ‘Grinch that stole Christmas’ thing happening,” an Allied Pilots Association spokesman told Reuters, “and we don’t want to see that happening for our passengers.”
According to a company memo sent to Bloomberg, flights currently without a captain, first officer, or both, are based out of American Airlines’ largest hub, Dallas-Forth Worth International, plus Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Charlotte.
“It will be a challenge, but I don’t think there will be mass cancellations,” John Cox, chief executive officer of consultant Safety Operating Systems and a former commercial airline pilot told Bloomberg.
“There’s going to be a lot of midnight oil spent on it, but I think they’ll get the vast majority of them covered one way or another.”
The airline claims to have fixed the glitch, Gizmodo reported, but it remains to be seen how many flights between Dec. 17-31 will get canceled.